‘Uh oh,’ I thought, ‘what did I just accidently sign myself up for?’
I was visiting FINCA clients in Uganda and had just suggested to Rupert Scofield, FINCA’s President, that Canadians would want to play a role in achieving the mission of the organization. What I meant was that someone should ensure FINCA became a charity in Canada.
“Excellent suggestion,” he replied, “you can be the founding board member!”
Shaking off my initial hesitation at the thought of such a daunting challenge, my husband Mike and I dove right in. Looking around today, more than a decade after taking that plunge, I am so astonished and excited by the ripple effect of that conversation.
Over the past ten years we have found much inspiration in the courage and tenacity of FINCA clients. If these men and women living in poverty could overcome so much, in order to create better lives for their families, then we could darn well push through the obstacles of starting and running a charity in Canada.
We started with just a handful of donors. They were Canadians that – like us – recognized that access to microloans changes people’s lives. And radically brightens the futures of their children and grandchildren.
Today, as we celebrate FINCA Canada’s 10 years as a registered charity, we have over 16,000 donors in Canada. This kind of growth is unheard of… unless you have inspiring clients, a proven model of empowerment, and a motivated group of supporters. Check. Check. Check!
I wish I could personally thank each and every one of the people who have shared their time, talents and treasure over the past decade. We have accomplished so much only because each of them chose to invest in our clients.
In November, the board and some of our longest supporters came together to celebrate our ten years of changing lives. We celebrated one particular client, Harriet, her daughter Denise, and their success. (More photos from the event can be viewed here.)
In addition to FINCA’s clients (nearly 2 million!) around the world, each donation has created a ripple effect right here in Canada as well.
Our supporters played an important part in FINCA Canada’s recent partnering with the Mastercard Foundation, which has been a game changer for us in Africa, and worldwide, enabling us, among other things, to leverage financial and mobile technologies like never before.
Another important milestone for us has been the growing partnership with the Peter Gilgan Foundation, which has been instrumental in scaling up our BrightLife program in Uganda.
These two new important partnerships, along with each FINCA Canada donors’ dedicated support, were instrumental in helping us catch the eye of the Government of Canada, with whom we have just started implementing a 5-year program to boost financial inclusion for women in Haiti and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Each of these steps could not have been possible without the last. Without Canadians. And let’s face it, the world could use a little more Canada right now.
I can’t tell you what the next 10 years hold for FINCA Canada, but I do hope that you will continue to provide our clients with the opportunity to create their own pathways out of poverty.